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Security legislation needed in Hong Kong, Lam says

CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-06-03 07:20
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor addresses the media at Central Government Offices ahead of a weekly meeting of the Executive Council, June 2, 2020. [PARKER ZHENG/CHINA DAILY]

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed on Tuesday that the central government will not sit by and watch the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region become a weak link in national security, in view of the blatant separatist trend of a year of often violent protests.

One day before she and high-level officials are to visit Beijing to offer views on the proposed national security legislation being drafted by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Lam said on Tuesday that last year's social unrest brought the advocacy of "Hong Kong independence", intervention from foreign forces and subversive acts against the SAR government.

These acts, which endangered national security, cast the general public into a constant state of anxiety so that some people even argued Hong Kong stood under the rule of fear instead of the rule of law, she said.

It would be unreasonable for the central government, which has attached great importance to Hong Kong people's well-being, to sit by unconcerned, she said, adding that the city would become the weak link in national security, harming the interests not only of Hong Kong itself, but also the entire nation.

It is thus legitimate for the central authorities to legislate on national security for Hong Kong, Lam said, as such security is part of the country's sovereignty and the basis of governance, and considering the inadequacy of the SAR's laws in this area.

There is an imperative need for the legislation, she said, noting that Hong Kong is the only region in the nation without a national security law, and she couldn't envision one being locally legislated in the near future.

Lam criticized foreign sanctions leveled over the proposed national security law as tokens of a "double standard", as indicated by these countries' totally different handling of their own riots and the way they gloried in Hong Kong violence in the past year.

She added that these foreign governments will be hurting their own interests in Hong Kong.

According to the Hong Kong government, the US trade surplus with Hong Kong has been the biggest among all its trading partners, with merchandise trade surplus totaling $297 billion from 2009 to 2018.

More than 1,300 US companies in Hong Kong have been treated exactly as local companies are in accessing the mainland market under the CEPA (Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement), Lam said.

Lam is expected to arrive in Beijing on Wednesday with other officials, including Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu and Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung.

Meeting journalists on Tuesday, Lee said he would offer the central government advice on the enforcement of the proposed national security law, such as ensuring prosecution and trial for related crimes following the principle of the common law.

Supporters of law

The proposed legislation, which will outlaw acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiracy with external forces, has received support from Hong Kong legal heavyweights.

Andrew Li Kwok-nang, former chief justice of Hong Kong, said he has no confidence that Hong Kong would be able to legislate on national security in the foreseeable future in view of its failure to do so in the 23 years since its return to the motherland.

Under these circumstances and considering the recent chaos in Hong Kong, the proposed legislation is "understandable and justifiable", Li wrote in an article published on Tuesday in several Hong Kong newspapers.

Another former chief justice of Hong Kong, Yang Ti-liang, said in a statement on Tuesday that the inherent right of every sovereign state to legislate on national security cannot be refuted.

He said there has been a legislative as well as an administrative vacuum in Hong Kong's ability to tackle subversive activities within the SAR.

Yang said he was pleased to understand from recent news reports that some principles of the common law system are to be inviolable in formulating the national security legislation. "Good faith and trust are important elements to embrace in epochal times like now."

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